Bill Covering Cannabis Dispensaries, Growing And Processing Facilities Before Frederick County Council

It creates definitions and approval criteria for these facilities.

Cannabis Plant (Photo from  Britannica)

Frederick, Md (KM) A proposed ordinance covering cannabis dispensaries, growing facilities  and processing facilities was presented to the Frederick County Council on Tuesday .

Mike Wilkins, Director of Development Review and Planning for the County’s Division of Planning  and Permitting, says the legislation would prohibit these dispensaries within 1500 feet of schools, parks, libraries, playgrounds, recreation centers, childcare centers and family childcare homes. He also says the 1500-foot buffer would apply to “any property that’s owned by the County, the Board of Education, or identified on the Comprehensive Plan as a future school, library, recreation center, park or similar use that’s intended to be used for a public purpose in the future,” he says.

Council President Brad Young says that could cause some problems in the future. “Right now, we have a list of all the future school sites. But if a year from now, if we identify and buy another site, that would be covered as well even though it’s right there now,”: he said.

Young was told that this could make a dispensary which has been operating for some time in that area a non-conforming use under this bill.

Wilkins also says this bill would prohibit cannabis consumption facilities. “It’s the county staff’s position that permitting that use could create zoning enforcement concerns and public nuisance complaints,” he said.

Council Vice President Kavonte Duckett raised a concern about that. “It’s no different from me going to the liquor store to purchase liquor than going to a bar to drink versus going to a dispensary to buy the marijuana—or the cannabis—and then going to an on-site place,” he said.

Wilkins responded: “If we were to permit  an on-site consumption facility, then zoning would  essentially become  the cannabis police of  Frederick County. because the state has basically said you can do it or not. You can make your own rules. It wouldn’t be a violation of state law. It would be a violation of county law,” he said.

Under this legislation, dispensaries would be permitted as a principle use in areas zoned Village Center, Mixed Use and General Commercial. Cannabis growing and processing facilities would be located in Office Research and Industrial, Limited Industrial and General Industrial. The bill says growing facilities would not be allowed in agricultural zones.

The Council is expected to formally introduce this legislation, hold hearings and take a vote sometime in the future.

Legislative Package

In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the Council agreed to add a bill dealing with gambling to its 2024 Legislative Package.

It is passes, non-profit organizations, such as volunteer fire companies. could let individuals use their credit cards to participate in on line gaming activities which help these non-profits raise money.

The legislation was introduced by Councilman Mason Carter. He said it follows concerns raised by volunteer fire companies which could not hold in-person fundraising activities  in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also could not rent out the hall to other organizations.

The bill would be statewide if it is enacted., and not just limited to Frederick County.

By Kevin McManus